Land rights before games

c. 1982

Donated by Peter Stanley

Museum of Australian Democracy collection

In 1982 a series of protests in Brisbane during the Commonwealth Games was successful in raising the issue of Indigenous land rights before a national and international audience.

One of the main aims of the campaign was to gain freehold title for Indigenous people to traditional lands in Queensland, and to control mining on those lands. It also sought to transfer control of Indigenous affairs from state to federal government, using the powers enabled by the amendments to the Constitution that arose from the 1967 referendum.

In the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games and the growing threat of protest from Indigenous groups during the Games, the Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Peterson declared a State of Emergency and made street marches illegal. In the days before the Commonwealth Games several thousand people marched peacefully through Brisbane in support of land rights, carrying placards and banners. Several hundred people were arrested in further protests staged in Brisbane during the Games, including 39 people arrested at a demonstration during the opening ceremony.